Two & out

OUA East champion Gaels lose leads at nationals, but build for future title runs

Guard Liz Boag led all Queen’s scorers during the CIS championships with 45 points in losses to Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Guard Liz Boag led all Queen’s scorers during the CIS championships with 45 points in losses to Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Supplied by Edwin Tam
Jenny Wright was named to the OUA first All-Star team this year.
Jenny Wright was named to the OUA first All-Star team this year.
Supplied by Edwin Tam

A pair of losses at the national championships couldn’t dampen the success women’s basketball achieved this year.

The Gaels’ 2013-14 season officially ended with losses to the Saskatchewan Huskies and Alberta Pandas in the CIS championships in Windsor last weekend.

Queen’s fell 61-52 to Saskatchewan in their tournament opener, after blowing a six-point lead they held heading into the final quarter. The next day, their season ended with a 67-55 loss to Alberta.

Despite having lost by 35 points to Saskatchewan in the pre-season, the Gaels traded leads with the Huskies up until the fourth quarter.

Queen’s held a six-point lead heading into the final frame, but a 10-2 run by the Huskies quickly evaporated the Gaels’ lead with four minutes left to play. Saskatchewan rode this momentum to pull ahead comfortably for the win.

Guards Liz Boag and Jenny Wright led Queen’s in scoring with 18 and 12 points, respectively, but post Robyn Pearson was unable to convert many shots, shooting 2-16 from the field.

The Gaels sizzled in the first quarter against the Pandas, building an 11-point lead, but poor performances in the second and third quarters led to the loss. Queen’s was also hurt by a disadvantage in height and were outrebounded 51-35.

Boag carried her team in the losing effort, netting 27 points, including six three-pointers.

Saskatchewan was seeded third in the CIS tournament, while the Pandas were the seventh-ranked team, one spot behind the Gaels.

Despite being a lower seed, Wright said Queen’s didn’t see themselves as underdogs going in.

“We have confidence in ourselves and in each other that we can play with these teams and we can beat these teams,” she said. “We like to go into games trying to prove ourselves as alpha dogs.”

With their performance during the regular season, the Gaels proved they belonged with the country’s elite.

Queen’s finished the regular season first in the OUA East and defeated the perennial East finalist Carleton Ravens to be crowned division champions. The Gaels ultimately lost to the eventual national champion, the Windsor Lancers, in the OUA title game.

Coming off a season in which they had a 7-13 regular season record, the Gaels won nine more games, good for first in the OUA East — a feat the program had never achieved before.

Head coach Dave Wilson lauded the acquisition of assistant coach James Bambury, who joined the Gaels’ program last year. Bambury’s full-time commitment allowed the rest of the coaching staff to do more than they otherwise could have.

Boag, Wright and forward Gemma Bullard were selected as OUA East All-Stars, while centre Andrea Priamo was selected to be a part of the All-Rookie team.

Wilson was also honoured, winning the OUA East Coach of the Year award for the third time in his Queen’s career.

With the team’s core remaining intact, Bullard said the Gaels’ focus is to return to nationals next season.

“I think we left the nationals with a search for more,” she said. “We had a taste of what it was like, and we’re [thinking] next year could be ours … we are kind of licking our lips a little bit.”

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